Vermeer's Hat

Vermeer's Hat

The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:

In the hands of an award-winning historian, Vermeer's dazzling paintings become windows that reveal how daily life and thought--from Delft to Beijing--were transformed in the seventeenth century, when the world first became global.
A painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another, a woman at a window weighs pieces of silver. Vermeer's images captivate us with their beauty and mystery: What stories lie behind these stunningly rendered moments? As Timothy Brook shows us, these pictures, which seem so intimate, actually offer a remarkable view of a rapidly expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur, which European explorers got from Native Americans in exchange for weapons. Those beaver pelts, in turn, financed the voyages of sailors seeking new routes to China. There--with silver mined in Peru--Europeans would purchase, by the thousands, the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time. Moving outward from Vermeer's studio, Brook traces the web of trade that was spreading across the globe.
The wharves of Holland, wrote a French visitor, were "an inventory of the possible." Vermeer's Hat shows just how rich this inventory was, and how the urge to acquire the goods of distant lands was refashioning the world more powerfully than we have yet understood.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Press : Distributed to the trade by Macmillan, 2008.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781596914445
Branch Call Number: 909.6 Brook 02/2008
Characteristics: 272 p., 8 p. of plates :,ill. (chiefly col.), maps ;,25 cm.

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 27, 2018

This is just terrific book: it pursues curiosity and relates dramatic events (most of them minor ones) and narrates the operations of and changes to institutions in the world in the early to mid 1600s. Beavers (poor Swedish beavers were exterminated!), silver, mixing of peoples are some of the main themes (each chapter is given its focus). The writing is just about perfect for history: not academic, not caught up excessively in drama, not moralizing; its edifying and sympathetic. A very lengthy further reading guide is included in the end.

Aug 19, 2011

If you're interested in geography and the history of how western economies were shaped by global trade, this is a fascinating book.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top